Joe Birch co-anchors WMC Action News 5 at 5, 6 and 10 o'clock weeknights on the Memphis/ Mid-South NBC affiliate. .
Joe marks his 40th year of service to WMC Action News 5 and its viewers in 2018. Tennessee's first television station hired Joe on May 20, 1978, the day he graduated from Christian Brothers University. Joe has served WMC viewers his entire career. In 2014, Joe was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. The Emmy Award winning News Anchor was invited to join the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Mid-South Chapter, 2009).
Joe has traveled across America and around the world for WMC. He spent 25 days in Atlanta, covering Memphians and Mid-Southerners attending the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Birch visited the People's Republic of China for three weeks in 1986 to cover a visit by representatives of Memphis In May International Festival which honored China in 1987. The newsman went on assignment to Italy in 1992 to prepare a documentary on the Memphis bound Wonders cultural series exhibition from the Vatican Museums. During that assignment, Birch met Pope John Paul II and recorded the exchange for broadcast on WMC Action News 5. Birch told the Holy Father, "The people of Memphis send you their warmest greetings." The Pontiff responded in his Polish accent, "God-a-bless-Tennessee."
Closer to home, Birch has won honors from the National Council on Problem Gambling for his reports on the positive economic and damaging social implications of casinos in the Mid-South.
Birch has won numerous awards for his charitable and civic endeavors. In December 2016, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital honored Joe for 15 consecutive years of participation in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend since the inaugural event in 2002. Joe has completed five 26.2 mile full marathons (2002, '04, '06, '08, '10) and 13.1 mile half marathons (2003, '05, '07, '09, '11 & '12, '13*,'14 , '15, '16 & 17) and while slow to reach the finish line has completed each event and has raised in excess of $100,000 during the St. Jude Marathons and Half Marathons. In 2009, Joe Birch was named "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Memphis Gridiron Show, Inc., an award cherished by the newsman because it had once been bestowed on Joe's hero, the late entertainer Danny Thomas, Founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Joe's other 2009 honors include Volunteer Fund Raiser of the Year from the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP/ Memphis Chapter) as well as the Ave Maria Award for years of service to the Ave Maria Nursing Home in Bartlett, TN. In 2008, Christian Brothers University made the newsman the 14th recipient of the Maurelian Medal, CBU's highest award for service to the University or community. Diversity Memphis (formerly the National Council of Christians and Jews) named Birch 2008 Humanitarian of the Year along with four other Memphians noted for community service. Birch received the 2008 St. Peter the Rock Award for his service to St. Peter Villa, the nursing home and rehabilitation center where Joe's beloved father spent the last year and a half of his life. In 2007, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association introduced the Joe Birch Media Award, presented to those who use the tools of communications to enlighten the community about MIFA's myriad of services. Birch was the first winner of the award. He has delivered MIFA Meals on Wheels (Route #12) once a week for nearly 20 years...
In this time, Joe has been blessed with countless friendships with MIFA clients. One client, Ms. Rosa Wright of 597 Mississippi Boulevard, was 105 years of age when she asked Joe and others to repair her dilapidated home. Birch prepared a news report about the "Matriarch of Mississippi Boulevard" who was radically independent and refused to move even in the face of drug dealers who pedaled illegal substances just a few feet from Ms. Wright's front door. The 2004 news report prompted responses from many kind souls and led to the complete renovation of Ms. Wright's residence by the good people of Le Moyne Owen College Community Development Corporation, the Home Depot and many others. At no cost to her, Ms. Wright enjoyed her refurbished home until the summer of 2007. She died December 7, 2007 at the age of 109.
The Memphis and Shelby County Optimist Respect for Law Committee named Joe Birch "Citizen of the Year" in 2007 for his Taking Back Our Neighborhoods reports and other community building efforts.
Birch is the Co-Founder and longtime Race Director of what's now the Orion 5K Run-Walk for St. Patrick Community Outreach, Inc., a 501 © 3 non-profit agency that serves children and families in 38126, the city's most impoverished zip code. A crowd of 1,708 runners, plus their families and enjoyed the 2018 Orion 5K which ends with a magnificent party on the east side of FedEx Forum. You are cordially invited to join in the fun at the 23rd annual charity 5K the second June 8, 2019. (The run was formerly known as the Gibson Guitar 5K for St. Patrick Community Outreach, Inc,)
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Birch visited New York City to deliver the $527,000 WMC collected to help the United Way of New York City and the agencies and people they serve.
The Memphis Chapter of UNICO, the Italian-American service organization, bestowed their community service award on Joe in 2004. Associated Catholic Charities honored Joe in 2002 with the Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Service Award, the agency's highest honor for community service.
Birch is deeply involved in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. His beloved father suffered from Alzheimer's for fourteen years until his death in 2002. Joe regularly serves as emcee of Alzheimer's Association events, including the annual Memory Walk. Birch was the honoree at the 2008 Alzheimer's Association of the Mid-South Gala.